Dempsey: US assessing whether Iraq security can hold, leaders can lead

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HONOLULU — A top U.S. military official says a key role of the American troops in Iraq is assessing whether the country's security forces can hold together and whether its leaders are confident they can do their jobs.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday to reporters after a speech that some of the 750 troops in Iraq are specifically there to help determine what the United States might do next to help Iraq fight an insurgency.

Dempsey says the troops will assess the makeup of Iraq's force and whether it's a force that still represents all Iraqis.

Dempsey says the U.S. assessment is happening at the same time as Iraq's political leaders try to form a government. He says how Iraq's people are included in the government will be an important factor in determining U.S. policy toward the country.

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